Is Being Shy Bad? The Answer Will Surprise You…

is being shy bad

Let me guess: you’re reading this page because you’re a shy person. And you have some questions like…

  • Is shyness a bad thing?
  • Do people think there’s something wrong about being shy? Or is it perfectly normal?
  • Should you accept that shyness is the way you are and try to live with it? Or should you try to change it if possible?

I’ll answer these questions in this article, but first I’ll start by saying:

As someone who was extremely shy for most of my life, I think it comes down to this:

Shyness is not bad, but it’s not helpful either.

There’a a song called “Ask” by “The Smiths” that goes like this:

Shyness is nice and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You’d like to

Some people have a mild shyness that doesn’t really change their life. My shyness was not like that. My shyness was painful. My shyness stopped me from having the life I wanted.

  • I didn’t have friends. I was dying inside from a lack of connection.
  • I couldn’t speak up in class, stand up to my parents when they were being unfair or go to a job interview without my armpits being drenched in sweat.
  • And I had absolutely no hope of turning my crush (who I always thought about) into my girlfriend.

From a young age I knew that shyness was not a benefit because it blocked me from so many things in life that I wanted. It made me lonely. It lowered my self esteem. It made me feel left out. It made me feel like a loser.

So the reason to overcome shyness is not because it is BAD, but because it is ADVANTAGEOUS to you.

Let me be clear:

You Don’t HAVE To Overcome Shyness

You do not HAVE to overcome shyness if you don’t want to. Being shy does not make you an inferior person. In fact, you don’t HAVE to do anything in life you don’t want to. It’s completely your choice whether you think it’s an issue you need to overcome or not.

I think that’s one reason people say “there’s nothing wrong with being shy.” They don’t want to be forced into doing something because of some moral obligation.

So does this mean that you should just accept being shy?

If you want to, then yes. BUT!… The answer isn’t really that simple for most people.

Many Shy People Are Unsatisfied

In my experience, many shy people are UNSATISFIED with their social life and amount of confidence. They actually HATE being lonely and isolated and having very few friends. They HATE being scared out of their mind when they have to speak in front of many people. And they HATE that they can’t talk to that girl or guy they like.

Back when I was very shy myself, I noticed that it was always NON-SHY people who said things like: “there’s nothing wrong with being shy” or “shyness is cute.”

I remember thinking… Yeah, my shyness is cute to you but for me it’s like playing the game of life on hard mode. Simple everyday things that non-shy people do all the time felt IMPOSSIBLE to me. Like going to a party and actually talking to people. Giving a short presentation at school. Or asking out a girl I liked.

The question to ask yourself is:

Does your shyness hold you back from things in life that you want?

I think that, for you, the answer is straightforward. Just look at yourself. Would you be reading this article if you really liked to be shy? Probably not.

And think of it this way: there is lots of advice out there trying to help people become more confident, charismatic or outgoing. But nobody is trying to become more quiet, socially awkward and lonely. Why? Because there’s no benefit to it.

In short: Don’t try to overcome shyness because you see it as a defect you HAVE to get rid of to make other people like you. Instead, do it because you WANT to do it, to improve your own quality of life.

But What About Self-Acceptance?

One thing you may be thinking now is: “but isn’t it important to accept yourself despite your faults?”

And yes, I think self acceptance is very important for happiness and self esteem. Acceptance means that you feel no shame for any part of yourself. Becoming completely unashamed of who you are is an important step in overcoming many issues shy people face, such as inferiority:

  • You aren’t ashamed if you have little friends or social life right now, and you don’t try to “hide” it from people thinking they’ll brush you off if they “found out.”
  • You aren’t ashamed about any part of your physical appearance. Instead of constantly looking in mirrors to “check” your appearance, you accept the way you look.

A quick warning: there’s a difference between self acceptance and simply being lazy and hopeless.

I’m a big promoter of unconditional self acceptance. But I don’t think it’s good if someone uses “self acceptance” as an excuse to not face their fears in life. Because that will lead to long-term misery. (I avoided my fears for many years, so believe me I know.)

The thing I’m against is when someone gives up going after something they want and then uses “self acceptance” as an excuse for their lack of courage.

If you are ready to stop making excuses and find out the REAL strategies that work at overcoming shyness fast, then read more of my articles on this website:

About the author

Sean Cooper

I study all areas of psychology, sharing what works (and what doesn't) for overcoming shyness and social anxiety. After curing my own severe social anxiety I created "The Shyness and Social Anxiety System" to help others. This program has received stunning reviews from psychologists and people like you.

Now it's my life's mission is to help 25,000 people get the confidence, friends and romantic partner you want!

Read more about me here.


  • I guess I have always been a shy person. In 5 grade I was only mute, but then I moved to Texas and grew older. I realized that I didnt want to be shy anymore. In fact I HATED being shy. I want more friends, more fun experiences, I want to feel free to do what I please. So, I ve been online searching for solutions for this shyness. By far I love this article because its real and true. Sometimes I would give the “I need to accept myself” excuse but I still felt bad. Im working on improving my social life. Its gonna be hard, but when I reach my goal Ill be happy as hell. I dont have to live for peoples approvals, them bitches can surve!!! 🙂

  • “People who are shy are usually lonely and isolated.”
    Maybe some are. Not all.

    “They often have very few, if any, friends.”
    On the other hand, there are plenty of shy people with friends – and being introverted often means that you don’t “need” so many friends. It wouldn’t be hard to find outgoing, confident people who lack friends (either because they are incapable of becoming more than acquaintances or because they’re crazy/weird and scare people away).

    “They usually have very low self esteem and see themselves as loners and losers.”
    Not universally true. But this seems like a chicken-or-egg thing. I’m inclined to say that the larger part of this point really stems from constant bombardment with the idea that being shy means you are insecure, lacking in confidence, unable to make friends, unsociable, and a “loser”. Existence of counter-examples validates this, and of course it’s not difficult to find all sorts of analogous situations – media propagates all sorts of views, and once they take hold (either because they seem appealing or because they do carry some grain of truth) the paradigm tends to be self-reinforcing. But that doesn’t make it accurate.

    “Look around you and see how there are so many people trying to be more confident and social, but nobody is trying to become more scared and introverted. There’s no advantage to it.”
    Again, as above – precisely because people are encouraged to stop being shy, does it seem that there is no benefit to shyness. The repeated statements that people need to be more extroverted and outgoing don’t really allow for any other thought unless one deliberately departs from that perspective. Striving to become “more confident and social” can be good if there is a deficiency in these traits that is having some identifiable negative effect. But then there are also negatives that come with losing shyness (and the other way around, positives that come with being more reserved/quiet – but of course you’ve used “scared”, which generally is a negative, as you main trait). Is it good to be more confident and social when you’re over-estimating yourself or letting your social life prevent success at work? Is it bad to be scared when there’s actually something to be scared of? Shy people have some advantages, those who aren’t shy have some advantages, and both types of person (and whatever’s in between) can function in society. What we need to do is stop pretending that shyness is a bad thing – because once we do realise that it can be good, we will open ourselves up to gain the benefits that it can bring, whether it is us or others who are shy.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Michael. You definitely make a good point that self acceptance is very important for everyone’s happiness.

      But beyond self acceptance, many people also want to improve their life situation because it’s unfulfilling. It’s these people who tend to come to my website. People who are perfectly happy being shy or socially anxious are free to stay that way. My goal isn’t to motivate everyone to change who they are.

      I’m hoping to reach the people who are ready and eager to overcome their shyness or social anxiety, but simply don’t know how.

    • Very well said!!! Nice to know I’m not the only one thinking that. The only reason I am reading this article is to try and understand why society seems to veiw shyness as such a negetive trait. I see parents of young children apologize all the time if their child is being shy. No wonder they see that trait as negetive as they grow older.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. Also, I think there’s a bias that should be admitted up front when in the end you’re trying to sell something

  • Skipped the article just to say OF COURSE ITS BAD!! conversation anxiety is the worst psychological rut to be in. I’m in it atm and trying so hard to get out.

  • For Christ sakes there’s nothing wrong with being shy! Oh man shy people can’t sit with strangers and listen to their bullshit! Oh fucking no Jesus what in the world are you gonna do?! Live your pathetic, overly social life and stop worrying about shy people for a change! We’re proud to be shy cause you know why, we don’t need strangers around us all the time, and sorry, but I have better things to do then talk with idiots and listen to their boring stories. Like who the fuck cares if your having problems with your husband? No one you stupid cunt! I’m proud to be different and if you think some snot nosed little fuck like you is gonna stop me you got another thing coming! I don’t need friends to boss me around or try to change me, had enough of that bullshit in high school! If you wanna be like everyone else fine go ahead, just don’t expect me to follow ya. You cunts laugh at me because I’m different, yeah well I laugh because your all the same! And if you wanna spend the rest of your life trying to change people, then you can just drop FUCKING DEAD!

  • Omg obviously if someone is looking for an article about this, they are feeling down because of experiences caused by their shyness. By shaming them further and focusing on the hinderance that shyness is, you just make them feel worse!!! Shy people are generally sensitive and read other’s emotions very well, they can tell what others think, when they judge negatively. You clearly have never had this, as you are completely oblivious to how you can hurt others with your arrogant views. You call shy people lazy. How do you know? If shyness is causing someone pain, don’t you think they would change if they could? Obviously! Why would someone allow themselves to suffer if they could just change? Shyness is a fear, and an ingrained, learned behaviour, perhaps as a result of something negative like social exclusion or bullying or abuse. Not always, maybe it’s just in a person’s nature. I am shy and yes, it has prevented me from experiencing a lot of good things and caused me a lot of pain.
    By labeling this trait as bad, you are doing harm. How about the loud, confident people actually took the time to allow shy people to open up and speak, rather than yabbering on about themselves to other self important asswipes. Geez, what a stupid, insensitive article. Do you know people kill themselves due to negative views of themselves and bad social experiences and for being judged as not worth knowing. Most shy people aren’t “lying to themselves” they are trying to live in this world where charisma and confidence is held up as the ideal, and peole like themselves get overlooked and ignored or worse pitied and judged as lazy by people like you.
    If you don’t know what you speak of, then keep your mouth shut!!!! You could damage a vulnerable person by putting stuff like this out there. Think!

    • I disagree in some points
      I searched this because i was sick of people telling me shyness is a bad thing,and i just came here to see what kind of arguments do they have
      My shyness help me to avoid fake friends and i am happy about it

  • i used to be so shy, but nowadays i try to overcome it, a lil bit.. just to be more confident in myself.

    i don’t think that being shy is 100% bad, it’s okay if you’re shy. you don’t have to push yourself too hard to be something that you’re not, or change to be like the others. i think you just have to learn to accept yourself— from your physical appearance, your race, your ethnics/nationality, your sexual orientation, your personality, everything about yourself. everyone is unique in different ways, everyone has their own pros and cons in theirselves, and society just have to accept that not everyone can be the same like what they always want, right?:)

    just because you’re shy doesn’t mean you’re worthless, or a meaning of any bad words. you’re beautiful just the way u are 🙂 and if i see a shy person in a place i will really don’t mind to be friends with them so they won’t be lonely.. hehe.


  • I am shy.I still am.But that is just around strangers..with time when im comfortable with them I am totally fine and play the fool around.And just because im shy I will not let chances to enjoy life to pass away and be cornered/to be bullied by others and shut up till they have made fun out of me!.Im finding it hard and confusing at times to understand myself,if I am right or wrong,but it is if you are shy,it is ok..if u are a is totally fine,cos if u are shy guys like u more(normally)but people have made this shynes a DISESASE on the is not!be urself but just don’t label urself as a shy person and stay shy but have strength to face people,talk to them and be happy with them and if they are comfortable u can enjoy their company too..:)hehe soo it is totally fine..NO DISEASE..!!!

  • I knew you had to be selling something. You would be a luckier person to have a shy friend. They understand people in a deeper way and are more insightful. They tend to be keen listeners, a life skill that comes easy to them. They help others feel appreciated and are more thoughtful. They are critical thinkers and think before speaking, they are polite, considerate and mindful of their words.
    All these wonderful traits makes them more approachable and appealing. Because of their mysteriousness from having quiet and guarded ways, this benefits them in seeking romantic relationships. Shy people provide calm and grounding effects to anchor others if needed. You say they have low self-esteems, but in reality their shyness makes them more independent and self reliant. Shyness is an opportunity for personal fulfillment, not needing exterior energy to make themselves feel good or to prove anything. Maybe you should start thinking outside the box and not believe everything you traditionally read.

  • First of all, I came here because the article title is misleading. I wanted evidence to give people that being shy IS NOT BAD! Also, being SHY and being INTROVERTED, are NOT THE SAME!! Now, I am one of the few who is both, and I DON’T WANT TO CHANGE because I find both traits an ADVANTAGE! Rather than partying, I do my work. I’m not prone to peer pressure. I actually LISTEN to people and can offer SOLUTIONS! Beacuse I hate giving speeches, I prepare for them more! I THINK OVER ENTIRE CONVERSATIONS to make sure I don’t say something offensive or embarrassing. I don’t want to change because I LOVE BEING DIFFERENT and am PROUD TO BE ME! So stop assuming everyone wants to talk and have thousands of friends, just because today’s bloody society says that’s a good thing. Screw society. BEING SHY IS NOT BAD! IT’S AN ADVANTAGE!

  • I have to agree with this article. Sometimes I say to myself “I don’t want friends” but in all honesty I say this because I’m pissed off about the fact that I can’t talk to people. And to those who think being shy is an advantage, from experience I can’t see how it is. How can being afraid and being held back from going after the things you want be an “advantage?” I’m sure everyone with shyness or social anxiety agrees with this but they just don’t want to admit it. They don’t want to admit it because of pride. How do I know this? Because I feel the same way too sometimes. Just look at some of the comments here, some people are very angry and bitter because of all they’ve gone through. They hate being shy and are jealous of confident people and it very clearly shows in their comments. Maybe shyness is not a bad thing, but it certainly sucks to live with it because it not only holds you back from things but it is also painful and frustrating. Just stating my opinion though.

  • Any problems are believed to come from childhood and upbringing. Personally I was raised to think that being shy means being a modest and decent person. That’s what I’ve heard for so many years and still hear when being with my family. It’s like, when your parents tell you you should wash your hands before eating, brush your teeth etc, you never even dare think you should desobey. You learn it for your entire life. That’s how I perceive my shyness. It’s not about lazyness or “self-acceptance”, it’s something I was taught ever since I was a small kid.

  • Shyness is in everyone to some degree. It is normal to up some point in life and people have to realize that the way things are today with bad people who are dangerous, trouble, or do things that could cause harm or potential hurt people then no there is nothing with shyness in people- not extreme shyness but a degree of it. Can’t trust people these days especially when it’s stranger danger.

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